Interesting mystery. I liked the premise, the setting and the characters, though I found the writing style a bit much at times. Lines like: "Power ofInteresting mystery. I liked the premise, the setting and the characters, though I found the writing style a bit much at times. Lines like: "Power of suggestion," screamed Helena strike me as a little overwrought, and the author's technique of fading out of scenes just as someone is about to reveal something important was a little cornball. But overall I enjoyed the book and expect I'll give Carr another try....more
I like how this story has more depth than the usual romantic suspense novel. There is still romance (although it's fairly understated) and suspense, bI like how this story has more depth than the usual romantic suspense novel. There is still romance (although it's fairly understated) and suspense, but Stewart provides characterization, lots of character growth and a moving "No man is an island" theme that gives the story unusual resonance. Reading about the English characters' awe at seeing so many historical sites in Delphi made me wish I had more of a classical education and could quote Sophocles on command as they do, but luckily that level of information isn't necessary for enjoying this story. ...more
Standard Grace Livingston Hill fare. Saintly, beautiful heroine is beset by comically villainous foes who seek to destroy her. She bears her troublesStandard Grace Livingston Hill fare. Saintly, beautiful heroine is beset by comically villainous foes who seek to destroy her. She bears her troubles with angelic resignation (literally angelic; no human would react that way) and is eventually rewarded for her virtue beyond her wildest imaginings. These books are like a spoonful of whipped cream. Pleasurable, but need some substance to offset the cloying sweetness. ...more
It would be hard to say what I hate most about this book and its publication. I hate that my library website now lists To Kill a Mockingbird as "To KiIt would be hard to say what I hate most about this book and its publication. I hate that my library website now lists To Kill a Mockingbird as "To Kill a Mockingbird Series, Book 1" as if Go Set a Watchman is a sequel. (IT'S NOT A SEQUEL!) I hate that Harper Lee's lawyer claims she recently discovered the manuscript when in fact she has known about it since 2011 and was only waiting for Harper Lee's sister and longtime protector, Alice, to pass away before she and the publisher cashed in. I hate that the announcement of publication was made only two months after Alice Lee's death. And I especially hate that the lawyer, Tonja Carter, claims Harper Lee fully supports this publication when in fact Ms. Lee is a frail, hearing- and sight-impaired stroke victim living in a nursing home who was most likely manipulated into this publication.
All that would be appalling enough, even if the story were good. But it isn't. It's rough, it's preachy, it's boring, the dialogue is unrealistic, and Jean Louise's internal monologue switches between 1st and 3rd person in an odd, clumsy way. So maybe I hate most that the person tasked with protecting Harper Lee chose money over honoring her literary legacy. I hate that people are equating the Atticus Finch of this rough first draft to the Atticus Finch of To Kill a Mockingbird as if this book is a continuation of the same story rather than the germ of an idea that eventually became a classic novel. And I really hate that this money grab by Harper Collins and the bloodsucking lawyer will likely tarnish two great American classics--the book and the movie--forever. The sad thing is that it's working. This never-should-have-seen-the-light-of-day book has sold 1.1 million copies in a week--the fastest selling book in Harper Collins history--and I really, really hate that.
This week, the world lost its collective mind over a dentist who killed a lion. I'd like to reserve my outrage for the lawyer who killed a mockingbird....more
I used to love Jane Aiken Hodge way back when, but this book makes me wonder why. The storyline was silly, the romance lacked depth, the characters weI used to love Jane Aiken Hodge way back when, but this book makes me wonder why. The storyline was silly, the romance lacked depth, the characters were nondescript, and there really didn't seem to be much reason for the romance other than gratitude and propinquity. The heroine, Camilla, begins falling in love with the hero almost instantly--apparently for no reasons other than physical attraction and because he rescues her from governess hell. The hero, Lavenham, takes a little longer because he doesn't trust women. Emphasis mine, because we're told over and over that he doesn't trust women. In fact, the story occasionally dips into his point of view just so he can mutter to himself about how much he doesn't trust women. The episode from his childhood is certainly traumatic, which makes his attitude at least somewhat understandable, but after a while I just wanted to say, for god's sake grow up and get over it. The plot revolves around Lavenham's mission to Portugal which is comically vague. (The author includes a lot of history about Portugal's role in the Napoleonic Wars but skates over minor details like the hero's reason for being there.) His one brush with danger seems included only to provide a romantic interlude. He spends the rest of his time dancing attendance on the Portuguese royals to absolutely no effect. It is this life-or-death non-mission that also leads to his abandoning the heroine for close on 50% of the novel, leaving her and his own sister to fend for themselves as war erupts in Portugal. This is hardly heroic behavior but is not even the worst of what he does to the heroine. Happily for the romance, she's more willing to forgive him than I was on her behalf. All in all, a forgettable romance....more
Mary Stewart has to have been the most literate romantic suspense author ever to place a heroine in peril. Who else could have characters discussing wMary Stewart has to have been the most literate romantic suspense author ever to place a heroine in peril. Who else could have characters discussing whether Corfu could have been the island setting for Shakespeare's The Tempest, knowledgeably comparing notes on the details of the play (from memory, naturally), and making literary references that other characters always recognize, however obscure (Aleister?) Reading Stewart's stories is always educational and usually like taking a vacation abroad. In this case it's a travelogue of Corfu and the people--and one dolphin!--of Greece. The suspense component was suitably suspenseful even if the reasons behind the bad guy's actions were rather obscure. Perhaps the politics of it made more sense in 1964. The climactic scene seemed unnecessarily dramatic and the romance could have been more satisfying, but overall this was an enjoyable read....more
This is one of my least favorite of Heyer's Regency romances. The characters are unappealing, and the mystery at the heart of the story could be clearThis is one of my least favorite of Heyer's Regency romances. The characters are unappealing, and the mystery at the heart of the story could be cleared up by one frank conversation amongst family members. Not exactly riveting stuff. In a close race, the heroine finished as my least favorite character. An amazing chance to escape a life of drudgery as a governess comes her way (for however implausible a reason), thereby bringing her into contact with a charming set of brothers who fall all over themselves to accommodate her, and all she can do is whine about it. Sometimes she is spirited and intent on bringing the hero down a peg, which gives her the potential to be a fun character, but more often she is humorless and complaining, which makes her annoying and totally unworthy of the "splendid adventure" she finds herself in the midst of. The hero is a close second on the annoying front. He hoards information like gold--to the detriment of several other characters in the story--and behaves as if his word is law and his instincts infallible. The romance between them is nonexistent and only signaled by other characters' reaction to them. Far from compelling, but even sub-par Heyer is better than most....more
I'm kind of on the fence about this book. On the one hand, I loved the way Emily has to learn to craft a life for herself after all her friends go offI'm kind of on the fence about this book. On the one hand, I loved the way Emily has to learn to craft a life for herself after all her friends go off to college. She eventually does a good job of it--as one of her former teachers says to her:
"You've discovered, I see, that we have to build our lives out of what materials we have. It's as though we were given a heap of blocks and told to build a house..."
That's a message that really resonates with me and I enjoyed watching Emily grow. What I didn't enjoy as much was her odd obsession with Don, who from the beginning seemed like a real jerk, and the slightly preachy tone of the story. I appreciated Emily's zeal to help the Syrians, but the romanticized, one-dimensional portrayal of them was ridiculous (borderline insulting, really), and at times I felt the author was more interested in pushing a political agenda than in telling a story. That is (emphatically) not what I'm looking for in a novel. I read, re-read and loved the Betsy-Tacy books as a girl, but for me, this book doesn't quite measure up. ...more
I read this years ago, but it was never one of my favorites. This time, I re-read it from an omnibus edition that also contains Touch Not the Cat. TI read this years ago, but it was never one of my favorites. This time, I re-read it from an omnibus edition that also contains Touch Not the Cat. The two books don't have much in common other than being romantic suspense stories, but as I read I was struck by the fact that both novels involve family members as romantic leads. In Touch Not the Cat, (view spoiler)[the relationship is a distant one, but the heroine spends much of the story wondering if her first cousin is her secret lover (hide spoiler)]. In The Gabriel Hounds, the hero and heroine are second cousins who were basically raised as brother and sister. I suppose having your romantic leads already well acquainted makes it easy for the author to dive right into the story without contriving any meet-cute situations, but I can't say it's a plot device I care for. There's something creepy about a romantic couple remembering how they were bathed together as children. The story itself is interesting enough, but rather convoluted and implausible, and the hero disappears for long sections which makes the romance even more shorthand than their already close relationship allows. Not one of Stewart's best. ...more
This is billed as a novel of suspense, but there isn't a great deal of suspense involved. It's pretty clear early on who the bad guys are and what theThis is billed as a novel of suspense, but there isn't a great deal of suspense involved. It's pretty clear early on who the bad guys are and what they're trying to accomplish. It takes the main character rather longer than it should to tumble to some fairly obvious conclusions, but I enjoyed the story despite these issues. I liked the backdrop of Evie's job as a curator and how that meshes with Mina's experiences during World War II. I especially liked Mina and how strong and independent she was and how feisty she remained even as the bad guys tried to Gaslight her. I also appreciated the history behind this story. Before I read this, I had no idea that a B-25 crashed into the Empire State Building in 1945--much less that Betty Lou Oliver really did survive a 75-story plunge in the elevator. Overall, an enjoyable, if not suspenseful, read....more
Never one of my favorites of Mary Stewart's books, and re-reading it all these years later hasn't changed my opinion. The story makes for a nice traveNever one of my favorites of Mary Stewart's books, and re-reading it all these years later hasn't changed my opinion. The story makes for a nice travelogue of rural Greece, but as a romantic suspense it falls short. It's never much of a mystery who the villains are in the story--just why they're doing what they're doing, which is secondary to their interaction with the hero/heroine. Nor is the romance particularly satisfying. We're meant to believe the two young (too young!) leads have fallen for each other, but their romantic interaction is pretty close to nil. For the most part it's an entertaining story with interesting people and an intriguing setting; it just isn't all that memorable....more